The Suffolk and Nassau health departments recommend that districts require additional...

The Suffolk and Nassau health departments recommend that districts require additional vaccination records issued by Wild Child Pediatrics and owner Julie DeVuono, seen exiting criminal court in Riverhead in September. Credit: Tom Lambui

The Miller Place and Rocky Point school districts have suspended their requirements that students who have childhood vaccination records from a pediatric practice convicted of forging COVID-19 immunization documents obtain proofs of vaccination from other health care providers.

The superintendents for the districts said this week they are awaiting information from a state investigation before deciding whether to re-institute the requirements that could potentially exclude children from school.

The moves came after parents in those districts and at least several others on Long Island challenged schools' mandates that children with records from the pediatric practice provide further proof they are vaccinated against diseases like the measles and hepatitis B, as required by state law. In some cases, attorneys threatened legal action against districts that did  not reverse such policies.

The Suffolk and Nassau health departments recommended that districts require additional vaccination records, including requiring a blood test.

Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville and its owner, Julie DeVuono, sold thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, DeVuono’s Garden City lawyer, Jason Russo, acknowledged. But Russo said that DeVuono, whose practice, he said, vaccinated up to 1,000 children a year, never falsified non-COVID vaccination records.

In September, DeVuono pleaded guilty to two felony charges in connection with the COVID-19 fraud, and to another felony charge of illegally obtaining oxycodone prescriptions for herself. She agreed to shut down her practice and surrender her nursing licenses. She is awaiting sentencing.

The state health department is investigating whether Wild Child forged immunization records for other diseases.

State health department spokeswoman Danielle De Souza Thursday declined to comment further.

In a letter to parents of children whose vaccination records came from DeVuono, Miller Place Superintendent Seth Lipshie wrote: "Once we are in receipt of more apparent information from the New York State Department of Health, we will inform you of any changes based on that information."

James Mermigis, an attorney who warned Rocky Point of legal action if the district didn’t rescind the policy, said he was glad the districts "backed down and did the right thing." He said parents in Miller Place challenged mandates there without a warning letter from him.

Mermigis argued there is not evidence that Wild Child falsified childhood immunization certificates and that requiring blood tests that indicate whether children vaccinated is “serious overreach.”

Some vaccines cannot be detected with blood tests; in those cases, the health departments are recommending vaccination from a different health care provider.

The Suffolk and Nassau health departments said in statements last week that DeVuono’s conviction, and the state’s investigation, gave them concern that Wild Child’s fraud extended beyond COVID-19 vaccines.

Mermigis said he represents a dozen families, with 30 children, in multiple school districts, all of which have reversed their policies.

One of those districts, Eastport-South Manor, did not confirm Thursday that it had rescinded its policy.

“As always, the district will continue to follow the requirements and guidance from the New York State and Suffolk County Departments of Health in regard to our students,” Superintendent Joseph A. Steimel said in a statement.

Suffolk’s guidance to schools is that they mandate further proof of vaccination, although officials in Suffolk and Nassau have emphasized that the recommendations are not requirements.

It's unclear which districts, if any, are currently following the health departments' guidance.

Another district Mermigis said had rescinded its decision to follow health department guidance, Island Park, declined to comment.

Attorney Chad LaVeglia, who represents parents from Smithtown schools, said that district had initially instituted policies following Suffolk’s guidance.

Smithtown Superintendent Mark Secaur said in a statement Friday that the district “has this matter under review and has deferred any determination relating to exclusion [of students] at this time.”

The district Thursday said through its public relations firm, Syntax, that it would not comment further.

Mermigis said Merrick schools instituted Nassau’s recommendations on new proofs of vaccination.

Merrick Superintendent Dominick Palma released a statement Thursday through Syntax that said, “The district is working with the impacted families and anticipates successful completion of the necessary paperwork within days.”

Palma declined to clarify what the district’s current policy is.

The Miller Place and Rocky Point school districts have suspended their requirements that students who have childhood vaccination records from a pediatric practice convicted of forging COVID-19 immunization documents obtain proofs of vaccination from other health care providers.

The superintendents for the districts said this week they are awaiting information from a state investigation before deciding whether to re-institute the requirements that could potentially exclude children from school.

The moves came after parents in those districts and at least several others on Long Island challenged schools' mandates that children with records from the pediatric practice provide further proof they are vaccinated against diseases like the measles and hepatitis B, as required by state law. In some cases, attorneys threatened legal action against districts that did  not reverse such policies.

The Suffolk and Nassau health departments recommended that districts require additional vaccination records, including requiring a blood test.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The Miller Place and Rocky Point school districts are suspending mandates that children with vaccine certificates from an Amityville pediatric practice obtain new proofs of immunization against diseases like the measles and rubella.
  • The practice’s owner was convicted of charges in connection with falsifying COVID-19 vaccination records. The state is investigating whether the fraud extended beyond COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The two districts say they will suspend the requirements pending more information from the state. The Suffolk and Nassau health departments recommended that schools institute the mandates.

Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville and its owner, Julie DeVuono, sold thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, DeVuono’s Garden City lawyer, Jason Russo, acknowledged. But Russo said that DeVuono, whose practice, he said, vaccinated up to 1,000 children a year, never falsified non-COVID vaccination records.

In September, DeVuono pleaded guilty to two felony charges in connection with the COVID-19 fraud, and to another felony charge of illegally obtaining oxycodone prescriptions for herself. She agreed to shut down her practice and surrender her nursing licenses. She is awaiting sentencing.

The state health department is investigating whether Wild Child forged immunization records for other diseases.

State health department spokeswoman Danielle De Souza Thursday declined to comment further.

In a letter to parents of children whose vaccination records came from DeVuono, Miller Place Superintendent Seth Lipshie wrote: "Once we are in receipt of more apparent information from the New York State Department of Health, we will inform you of any changes based on that information."

James Mermigis, an attorney who warned Rocky Point of legal action if the district didn’t rescind the policy, said he was glad the districts "backed down and did the right thing." He said parents in Miller Place challenged mandates there without a warning letter from him.

Mermigis argued there is not evidence that Wild Child falsified childhood immunization certificates and that requiring blood tests that indicate whether children vaccinated is “serious overreach.”

Some vaccines cannot be detected with blood tests; in those cases, the health departments are recommending vaccination from a different health care provider.

The Suffolk and Nassau health departments said in statements last week that DeVuono’s conviction, and the state’s investigation, gave them concern that Wild Child’s fraud extended beyond COVID-19 vaccines.

Mermigis said he represents a dozen families, with 30 children, in multiple school districts, all of which have reversed their policies.

One of those districts, Eastport-South Manor, did not confirm Thursday that it had rescinded its policy.

“As always, the district will continue to follow the requirements and guidance from the New York State and Suffolk County Departments of Health in regard to our students,” Superintendent Joseph A. Steimel said in a statement.

Suffolk’s guidance to schools is that they mandate further proof of vaccination, although officials in Suffolk and Nassau have emphasized that the recommendations are not requirements.

It's unclear which districts, if any, are currently following the health departments' guidance.

Another district Mermigis said had rescinded its decision to follow health department guidance, Island Park, declined to comment.

Attorney Chad LaVeglia, who represents parents from Smithtown schools, said that district had initially instituted policies following Suffolk’s guidance.

Smithtown Superintendent Mark Secaur said in a statement Friday that the district “has this matter under review and has deferred any determination relating to exclusion [of students] at this time.”

The district Thursday said through its public relations firm, Syntax, that it would not comment further.

Mermigis said Merrick schools instituted Nassau’s recommendations on new proofs of vaccination.

Merrick Superintendent Dominick Palma released a statement Thursday through Syntax that said, “The district is working with the impacted families and anticipates successful completion of the necessary paperwork within days.”

Palma declined to clarify what the district’s current policy is.

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